Respect is not something this country gives much value to. One has to earn respect, it is not freely given. This concept is not true of all cultures. Who is more respectful than the American Indian? They respect the land, the animals, the mountains, the oceans. It is worth repeating that when they first encountered the people that came by boats, to a tribe, not even knowing each other, they all came to the same conclusion about white people: They are the peoples who beat their children.
True. Why is that? Why are we so cruel to each other? The first answer that comes to mind is that Indians were few and everyone needed to be nurtured and supported. They were appreciated. The English, the French and the Spanish who came to America were from highly populated areas where life had become cheaper than riches, resources. One had to earn respect. But no matter one’s sterling qualities, one’s talent, without resources to back one up -- no respect.
In our time, gaining respect is much more complicated. Resources, absolutely still garner respect, especially as they are becoming scarcer. But talent is respected and is understood, no matter other handicaps such as one’s color, age, gender, boorishness. Native Americans saw as the highest attainment one should reach for was to of service to one’s tribe. Modern man to some extent holds the same belief: one’s purpose is to be of service, to contribute. Not to a specific tribe, or even to a country, but to humanity. The everyday life of one’s group, even of one’s family, our nomadic life negates esteem, divorce, children leaving home, the new job post, the car, the train, the plane. Having placed resources as of greater value than life, one becomes attenuated to the pursuit of capital, one is isolated, easily managed, and yes, disrespected.
I, like every woman in this country, is stigmatized because of my gender. Shirley Chisholm once said that she met much more discrimination for being a woman than being black. We would all like to live in a world where one is respected without doubt. The French have a saying that one is entitled to respect simply for one’s humanity. But thought or said is not necessarily implementation. I once attended a trial in my hometown of Lewiston, which was then considered a badass place, (unfortunately, it has lost that title and has become merely a depressed town) I don’t remember why I was there, had nothing to do with the case being presented, but I watched as a man, a minority in a blue nose Yankee town, a Jewish lawyer proffered his case. I cringed as I saw the man behaving like a fool.. It was a trick he employed to throw the judge, opposing attorney, and those involved with the case off kilter. He won the case, and they all thought he was brilliant.
I see myself in a similar situation when it comes to respect. I am small, 104 pounds, mild-mannered in speech and discreet, so am easily dismissed. This is good, my best asset. There is one drawback to this stance. When it is discovered that underneath that decorum I am a badass girl from Lewiston Maine, there is hell to pay from the affronted. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OD3WOKLTRyQ